COLUMBUS, Ohio—Researchers here have made a discovery in materials science that sounds like something from the old Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends: They’ve found a way to deactivate “nano twins” to improve the high-temperature properties of superalloys that are used in jet engines.
The advance could speed the development of powerful and environmentally friendly turbine engines of all sorts, including those used for transportation and power generation.
The “nano twins” in question are microscopic defects that grow inside alloys and weaken them, allowing them to deform under heat and pressure. In the journal Nature Communications, engineers at The Ohio State University describe how tailoring an alloy’s composition and then exposing it to high heat and pressure can not only prevent nano twins from forming, it can actually make the alloy stronger.
In tests, the technique, which they’ve dubbed “phase transformation strengthening,” eliminated the formation of nano twins and decreased alloy deformation by half.